Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

14 May 2009

MikroBlog Brainstorm, Part One

Part one of a wiki-essay on "Thinking about a new/different way of doing blogging... and about what blogging is all about... "

Original at:

Comments/constructive criticism welcome; be aware, though, that Part One is just painting background for a brainstorm, and not intended as a comprehensive, or even accurate, Recent History Of Blogging. Still very much a Work In Progress!


Blogging in the conventional manner -- having a blog at BlogSpot or LiveJournal or WordPress or even at your own domain using some custom blog platform -- it all seems a bit passè, now, after the hype and frenzy of a couple of years ago.

The format is very much that of a newspaper article, isn't it? Headline, dateline, reporter, article. Even TV reporters follow the format. Oh, except for the commenting, of course! And ratings. That's what was so exciting; a new form of conversation. Two different kinds of conversation, really.

The first is the __News Mode__ conversation. It's a ''broadcast'' mode, primarily; News from me and my world to y'all out there who might be interested in following my drivel. Great for venting. Later that morphed into podcasts -- where did that all go to? -- and photoblogs, but it's all much the same thing. Think of Life Magazine in the 50's and 60's. That's why the mainstream news-media has managed, though it took them long enough, to successfully incorporate blogs and the blog style of things into their websites and mainstream content: it's not so very different from what they were doing before blogs came along. Though let's note in passing that many of them are still extremely uncomfortable with the free-and-easy, short-and-to-the-point, frequently vituperative style that commenters use. There's still a whole lot of this style of blogging going on, and I don't think it is going to disappear.

[{Image src='' width='150' height='56' align='right' style='' class='image' }] It can be demanding, though, for the C-list bloggers like Yours Truly. Bloggers with, perhaps, a couple of dozen regular readers who share some niche common interests, read and comment regularly on each others' blogs, and, over time, become friends-at-a-distance. These are the bloggers who are not in it for the money. On their sites you'll see "Proudly Ad-Free" badges. They tried AdSense, and made the grand sum of 32 cents from it. The pressure from all those "How to be a Successful Blogger" websites... the feelings of having let people down should you fail to blog three times a week on a regular schedule... keeping that blogroll up to date... acknowledging all the comments... keeping the comment-spam under control... It all becomes too much after a time, and we see many of these C-listers give up their blogs after a couple of years. Sad, really, because many of them bring a fresh, interesting, if slightly myopic, story to the world.

The idea that bloggers were going to replace conventional journalism with news-from-the-streets... where did that go? Sadly not too many bloggers are keen to follow the Courts beat, nor to drag about after boring political hacks looking for the stuff the mainstream media masticates into news.

But! The conversation is peculiarly stilted. You leave a comment on someone's blog. Perhaps they reply via another comment. Perhaps somebody else comments on your comment. You probably never get to see that. Did you bookmark that conversation? Unlikely! And even if you did, will you remember to go back and visit the bookmark? You might comment on half-a-dozen blogs on any given day. It's a hell of a lot of work keeping up with all those conversations!

There have been various technical fixes to the problem -- email notifications on comment follow-ups, websites that follow the conversation for you and attempt to centralise it -- but none of these have been particularly successful. So as a means of actual conversation, conventional blogging comes up deficient.

But it did get us started, didn't it? We're all writing and conversing much more than we were a decade ago when we were still mainly a television audience -- mere passive consumers of the torrent of crap deemed by the Media Powers to be in our best interests -- and their way of ramming crappy advertorial down our collective gullets.

13 April 2009


Twitter looks vaguely interesting. Not too much. Not enough for me to bother with it. I think it's very Flavour Of The Day.

But it does suit one thing I've had in mind for a while... the idea of a "stream of consciousness" blog sort of thing. Essentially a blog where I can just post a line or two or three, without all the formality and palaver of Subject lines, Categories, Tags, etc. In a nutshell, Twitter,but without the 140 character limit, and hosted on my own server as part of my own infrastructure.

Maybe I'll just write it....

<i>I need another development project like I need more holes in my head. Only two major development projects on the go at the moment, and a couple of minor ones.</i>

13 July 2006

What I Really Want In a BlogSystem

Now that I'm getting the hang of this "blogging" thing (humour me in my misguided belief :-), I find myself writing more than I ever did - and that's great!  But for a couple of misguided influences and accidents as a kid I might have ended up as a writer, so perhaps this is my way of playing catchup.

Prompted by the provocative "What would I do different if I had to start my blog over?" I started to mull over what I would really like to see in a blogging system.  In fact I was discussing this just the other day with "Lemnik" who tells me he is thinking of writing a new (probably Open Source) blogging system.

Tags vs. Categories

Firstly I want every post to have a set of tags associated with it, rather than having to pigeon-hole posts into categories.  Categories may work for some people, but not well for me, and tags can certainly fulfil the same function.  They also allow you to put a single post into multiple "categories". So away with Categories, and in with the Tags.

Multiple Authors

Many blogsystems do this.  Just not Blojsom.  There are a number of good reasons why Blojsom is the software that suits me best, not least are its awesome integration capabilites.  It sports just about every kind of API for blogging, but the one serious shortcoming is that it pretty-much assumes  "One Man, One Blog".  "Person" if you're feeling particularly politically sensitive.

All the Right Pinginess

Blojsom really scores here.  It will ping any blog aggregation service or search engine whenever you update your blog, and its as easy as entering the notification URL of the site into the blog settings.

Comments and Trackbacks

Of course. With spam-controls. Optional, too - some people want to turn them off, and with good reason.  On the other hand the comment setups could be a lot better - much more like forum systems.  Mostly its just a linear list of comments, and needs something much more "conversational".  And should include something from all those trackbacks, too.

Built-in Ratings

Yes, there are an ever-growing number of "rating" sites and tools out there, but how hard would it be for my blogsystem to have one built-in?

Easy Linkiness

Again, there are lots of services that do this.  I use a few of them to keep my various blogrolls, but its not difficult to provide an easy way to capture the URLs of blogs I want to list in a blogroll, and could easily include the sort of OPML/Atom feed capabilities that allow integration with the wider world.

CSS and Templates

Open up the CSS.  Most blogsystems seem to hide it away.  Blogger is a good exception, where its right out there in the template.  But god help you if you screw it up!  No going back!  Good way to make not-too-confident-in-the-first-place users really, really nervous about hacking the look&feel of their site.  Some goes for templates.


Two themes, I think:

1) Enable a much more open, multi-way conversation with my readers.  Enable them to help me articulate this stuff I'm blogging (whatever that ma be.)

2) Give me more choices in how I structure the thing - make the structures flatter, more open to integration (if I want it.)

No doubt I'll think of many more features the moment I press the "Publish" button...

08 July 2006

Blogosphere Blues

I hate the word "blogosphere".  It sucks.  Its just an ugly word.  The person who thought of it should be shot.  Come on!  Own up!  We know you're out there, and, Google willing, we'll find you eventually!

So, not one to accept generalised wingeing, I propose a replacement: Blogsphere.

There, see?  By dropping just one little letter, its a whole heap more palatable.  Although I confess it does remind me of "Vogsphere"...
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